Former Springboks coach Allister Coetzee kicked off his reign as Namibia head coach on a losing note going down 24-13 to Ivory Coast in the opening game of the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers on Saturday, July 3, 2021, in Abidjan.
Namibia went into the tournament as the highest-ranked nation in the qualifiers, 25, while Ivory Coast is several places below the 2019 World Cup competitors at 42.
Despite the unavailability of several players at home and abroad, the side was quite experienced with 12 of the 23-man squad having represented Namibia at the 2019 World Cup.
The defeat came hours after Kenya had lost 19-20 to Senegal, ranked 54, in Nairobi.
The two highest-ranked teams in each of the pools in 2021 will play in a streamlined Rugby Africa Cup in 2022. Formatted as a straight knockout competition, Rugby Africa Cup 2022 will include four quarter-finals, two semi-finals and a final, all played in one venue.
In the first quarter-final, the winner of Pool A will take on the runner-up in Pool D, and in quarter-final 2, the winner of Pool D will play the runner-up in Pool A.
If the first two pools play out according to the rankings, Namibia and Tunisia and Zimbabwe and Madagascar will contest the first two quarter-finals of Rugby Africa Cup 2022. The winners of these quarter-finals will then play each other in semi-final 1.
Burkina Faso find themselves paired with Tunisia and Zimbabwe in Pool D. Neither Burkina Faso or Tunisia have ever been to a Rugby World Cup before, but Zimbabwe are looking to make it to their third tournament having appeared in 1987 and 1991.
Rugby Africa Cup 2021 Results:
Saturday, July 3, 2021
Kenya 19 Senegal 20
Ivory Coast 24 Namibia 13
Rugby Africa Cup 2021:
Pool A: Namibia, Madagascar, Ivory Coast
Pool B: Kenya, Zambia, Senegal
Pool C: Uganda, Algeria, Ghana
Pool D: Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Zimbabwe
Rugby Africa Cup 2022:
QF1- Winner Pool A vs Runner-Up pool D
QF2- Winner Pool D vs Runner-Up pool A
QF3- Winner Pool B vs Runner Up pool C
QF4- Winner Pool C vs Runner Up pool B
SF1- Winner QF1 vs Winner QF2
SF 2- Winner QF3 vs Winner QF4
Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2